UNLEASHING POTENTIAL IN STORYCENTRIC COMMUNITIES

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I Am Reverend Fofana

I Am Reverend Fofana

Imagine 27 church and mission leaders from Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, and Madagascar gathering together to engage in stories and discussions about Leadership for a Healthy Church. This is what we have been privileged to witness this past month. One participant shared that he had a vision the night before of a water pump that would not yield water. He said, “in my vision, I was so thirsty so I used the water pump but no water came out. I did not know what the vision meant.” What he later came to learn was that the image of a rice field vs. water pump style of leadership is our driving image for this first leadership module. We encourage the leaders to be “rice-field” (Christ-centered) leaders rather than “water pump” (power, big boss) leaders. It’s a simple image, but it has profound impact. Big Boss Leader Also central to this first module

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Remain in Me

Remain in Me

On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus said to His disciples, “If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” These disciples did remain in Christ, and God used them beyond their wildest imagination. What is happening in this church?  This coming June, Tina and I look forward to visit her parents in the Florida town where Tina grew up. During our annual visits we typically attend a small church there. It’s the church where we were married nearly forty years ago. Today the church building sits in a declining neighborhood; most passersby don’t even know it’s there.The church’s pastor is a local. God delivered him from alcohol abuse, transformed his life, and called him into ministry. He doesn’t have much formal education. On Sunday mornings, he opens his bible, reads a few verses of Scripture, and explains it to the congregation. When time runs

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The Narrow Path to Peace (Song)

The Narrow Path to Peace (Song)

Teaching About Peacemaking Through Song Today we’d like to feature a song from Freedom to Lead International®‘s (FTL) most recent trip to Bamako, Mali. It is here where indigenous musicians developed culture specific songs to go along with FTL’s leadership development module on Peacemaking. The Lyrics “Avoid the Slippery Slopes,” says the lyrics of today’s song. And just what are the slippery slopes? The slippery slopes are two natural responses to conflict: “to fight” and “to take flight.” However, these are responses that a wise leader needs to learn to avoid. Instead, a good leader will seek the narrow path that leads to reconciliation. FTL’s The Garden Project curriculum uses the image of a muddy path with steep, slippery slopes on either side in order to teach leaders the difficulty of navigating conflict and moving toward resolution (see below). The Musicians This team of Bambara musicians from Bamako, Mali created today’s

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Asking the Right Questions

Asking the Right Questions

Storytelling Questions The Story of Rev. Gupta Rev. Gupta was a well-loved pastor in his rural community for many years. He brought together his friends Raju and Geeta to help build the church and these people became life long friends. The community was being reached with the gospel, people were being baptized every week, and the church was growing. Rev. Gupta was able to get further study in a neighboring city. As the church started to expand and new ministries were being added, several things began to happen. Raju and Geeta were concerned by the changes they were seeing in Rev. Gupta (or, rather, as he now wanted to be referred to as Dr. Gupta). As the ministry grew under Dr. Gupta’s leadership, he was invited to travel and teach and, in the process, became a sought-after conference speaker. It wasn’t long, however, before the early signs of “big boss sickness” began

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The Prayers of the Faithful

The Prayers of the Faithful

There is a group of ladies at the local church. You know them. You can even picture their faces in your mind. On the outside they look like they lead simple, quiet lives. They’ve raised their families. They work in their gardens. They bring casseroles to the sick. They gush over new babies and encourage blushing new brides. They sell handmade items at craft fairs to raise money for world missions. They give advice on how best to thaw that frozen chicken. They bring jars of honey and jam as gifts. Many have husbands who are also active in the church. And for the past thirty years, every Thursday at 9:00 AM these men and women have gathered together in someone’s living room to pray. As a missionary kid, and then as a missionary myself, I have grown up with the legacy of the prayers of the faithful. I am

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We Have Waited So Long

We Have Waited So Long

It was 1980-something and our church had invited a missionary to speak. Inevitably, this meant the service would go long, so I decided to sit in the balcony. By the time the missionary began his appeal, I was already praying. He raised his arms and said, “God needs people to go into the harvest, people willing to say, ‘Here am I, send me.’” Moved by these words I continued praying, “Not me, not me, O, please God, not me.”   The missionary continued, “And God is calling the person out there that is saying, ‘Please God, not me’”.   Startled by the missionary’s words and fearing I had spoken out loud, I continued to pray, “Heavenly Father I know you are a God who answers prayers, please don’t send me. I have a brother, send him. I’ll pay.” I spent 30 years trying to forget that day. For the last six

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Reaching the Unreached People in East Africa

Reaching the Unreached People in East Africa

Real People With Real Stories “Grace” is 30 years old. Every week she walks on rough roads through mountainous terrain for 25 miles in order to reach the community for Jesus. She is persecuted for her faith, but she persists in her ministry because her calling to the unreached is great. “Ian” worked among an unreached people group. He was one of the very few Christ followers that had made contact with these people. “Jerry” was building into Ian, developing him as a leader in order to grow the church there. Last month, Jerry’s phone alerted him that Ian was calling, except when he answered it wasn’t Ian. The person on the other end had to deliver the bad news that Ian had been killed in a car accident. Jerry lost not just a friend that day, but one of his strategic leaders in his network. With Ian now gone,

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Leading With Story

Leading With Story

Cultivating Christ-centered Leaders in a Storycentric Generation Originally Posted on January 26, 2017 by Missio Nexus This is a long overdue book about leadership in a world suffering from future shock – a world changing so rapidly that no one can keep up. Changes are happening so quickly that most of the time it feels like we are living on the starship Enterprise leaping into cyberspace where no man has gone before. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, podcasts and live streaming of sermons, university-accredited online theological degrees, discipleship training, and leadership development provide for a quick, inexpensive means to churn out vast numbers of new leaders for the next generation – the demand is great but the workers are few. Print Version Kindle Version While we now have electronic Bibles flying around the world instantly we may mistakenly think that the digital world will solve most of our most pressing problems

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Interview with Yariwe in Bamako, Mali

Interview with Yariwe in Bamako, Mali

A Water Pump or Rice Field? We regularly hear about the impact of songs through New Music Monday (NMM) posts. However, what about the impact of the symbols used in Freedom To Lead’s innovative curriculum? In today’s video, Yariwe, a young Bambara pastor (and musician) talks about why he is so excited to see The Garden Project curriculum come to Mali. Yariwe talks specifically about the contrasting images of a rice field and a water pump. For this reason, featured here is the following song, “A Water Pump or Rice Field?” This song is recorded by Yariwe and the rest of the Bambara music team as the background music. We hope you can begin to see the significance of The Garden Project curriculum. The goal of this curriculum is for the training of leaders with wildly varying degrees of literacy in the underresourced world. We at FTL count it a great

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The Shadow of a Leader (Song)

Today’s song was created in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire by a team of Bete musicians. I continue to be amazed at the Bete’s use of vocal harmonies as a dominant feature in their music. (Many cultural groups in West Africa use little or no vocal harmony at all). The biblical story of Jeroboam Today’s song, “The Shadow of a Leader” is drawn from the biblical story of Jeroboam from 1 Kings chapters 11 & 12. Jeroboam was a leader who began well but then when became fearful he became a “big boss” type of leader. This song reminds the listener that the shadow (influence) of a humble leader is large, while the shadow (influence) of a “big boss” leader is small. If you listen closely, you can hear the name, Jeroboam used throughout the song. Today’s song repeats a core story from the first training module from an innovative leadership development

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Abigails in Ethiopia

Abigails in Ethiopia

Agents of Reconciliation Violence is dividing the Ethiopian people, but a cohort of Christian leaders is resolved to walk Abigail’s path to peace. Many Ethiopian people in East Africa are desperate. Demonstrations are fueled by widespread discontent over the declining quality of life throughout the country. Leaders of the opposition party have recently been arrested, leading to increased unrest. Electricity, water systems, and infrastructure are collapsing, and daily life has become difficult for many. Within the mayhem, a group of Christian leaders want to be agents of reconciliation. They are embracing Abigail’s example to avoid further bloodshed among their countrymen. Abigail the Peacemaker Abigail was a peacemaker in ancient times. According to the Bible’s Old Testament, she was Nabal’s wife. After protecting Nabal’s property, the warrior David requested assistance from Nabal . But Nabal was both arrogant and stupid; he refused David’s request. David was ticked, so he determined to

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Christmas: A String Around My Finger

Christmas: A String Around My Finger

My grandmother used to help me to remember by saying, “Ricky, tie a string around your finger.” The logic, of course, was that when I saw the string, I would ask myself, “Why is the string there? Oh, I remember.” A string around my finger was kind of hard to forget. Christmas, too, is like a string around my finger. I have a way of forgetting, so each year the celebration of Jesus’ birth is a reminder of at least three things: First, Christmas is a reminder to me that Jesus Christ is both Other and Personal. This One whose creative power spoke everything into being also lived humbly. Second, Christmas is a reminder of Jesus’ promise: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” With tomorrow’s uncertainty, He personifies hope that does not change. And third, every Christmas is a reminder to leaders that the loudest voices are

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